Page:Essays Vol 1 (Ives, 1925).pdf/119

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

BOOK I, CHAPTER XVIII

99

through by a superhuman effort, with great slaughter of the Carthaginians, purchasing a shameful flight at the same price at which they might have had a glorious victory.

The thing I am most afraid of is fear. And, indeed, it surpasses in sharpness all other calamities. Could there be a keener and more justified emotion than that of Pompey’s friends, who were on his ship and were spectators of that horrible massacre?[1] And yet, fear of the Egyptian vessels which were beginning to draw near so stifled this emotion, that it was noticed that they were occupied only in urging the sailors to hasten, and in saving themselves by rowing, until, when they arrived at Tyre and were free from fear, they were at leisure to turn their thoughts to the loss they had met with, and to give free rein to the lamentations and tears which that other stronger passion had held in check.

Tum pavor sapientiam omnem mihi ex animo expectorat.[2]

Those who have been well thrashed in some encounter, and are still wounded and bleeding, can be led back to the charge the next day; but those who have conceived a sound fear of the foe, those you cannot make even look him in the face. Those who are in extreme dread of losing their property, of being exiled, of being enslaved, live in constant anguish, unable to eat or drink or sleep; while the poor, the exiled, the slaves, often live as happily as any others. And the many people who, finding unendurable the stings of fear, hang or drown themselves, or throw themselves from heights, teach us clearly that fear is more importunate and unbearable than is death. The Greeks recognise another variety of it, which is not due to the wandering of our reason, coming, they say, without apparent cause and by an impulse from above. Whole nations are often seen to be seized by it, and whole armies. Such was that which brought

  1. See Cicero, Tusc. Disp., III, 27.
  2. Then fear expelled all feeling from my breast. — Ennius, apud Cicero, Tusc. Disp., IV, 8. This passage, beginning with “Could there be a keener” (11 lines above), and ending with this line of Ennius, does not appear on the Bordeaux copy of 1588, but there is a mark indicating an interlineation, and a piece of wafer used to affix an additional sheet. The passage as it stands first appeared in 1595.